Monthly Archives: February 2009

It’s Not The Words, It’s The Language!

The majority of people in Turkey are not Kurdish, but there is a significant number who belong to that ethnic group. They have a distinctive language and culture which they regard as part of who they are as a people. The leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) was addressing the party’s parliamentary group when a Turkish television cut the live broadcast because Ahmet Turk was speaking in the wrong language– Kurdish. Mr. Turk said he was speaking in Kurdish in recognition of the UN cultural body, UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day which is designed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. The television station, TRT, said that no other language other than Turkish could be used when making parliamentary speeches of group addresses.

A decade ago, a deputy from a pro-Kurdish party was jailed for speaking Kurdish in the parliament. Ironically, Turkey on January 1, 2009, established a TV channel which is entirely in Kurdish. How about a compromise agreement and make English the official language for all parliament discussions?

Israel President Pleads For Peace

Shimon Peres, president of Israel finally talked bluntly and honestly to the Knesset by saying peace with Palestinians was the highest priority for the nation. A peace agreement with Palestinians will set the stage for regional peace and finally allow Israel to establish peaceful political and economic relations with other nations in the Middle East. “Peace will create a new economic reality–for us and our neighbors.” If Palestinians have a thriving economy they will be less interested in violence and supporting extremists. The original hope of Israel’s leaders was not only the founding of a homeland, but to establish peaceful relations with Arab neighbors.

The task of Benjamin Netanyahu is to adopt a realistic view of what his nation needs at this moment in time. This means creating a middle of the road government and rejecting the crazy ideas of people like Avigdor Lieberman.

What Bush Never Told America About Iran!!

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey told the British Guardian newspaper that Iranian officials made a request while George Bush was president of their desire to establish peaceful relations with the United States but never received any response. George Bush constantly lied to the American people by claiming the Iranian government was only interested in violence and had no desire for peace in the region. Erdogan said he will convey the Iranian desire for peace to President Barack Obama and offered to play the role of a conduit between the two nations in hope of creating a new image in the region that moves away from confrontation and violence. His comments came in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s appointment of Dennis Ross who is to serve as a special envoy in the Middle East and with Iran. In a recent article, Ross suggested a new approach towards Iran should best begin through a “direct, secret back channel.”

In the interview, Erdogan also made clear that Israel acted in a disproportionate manner in the recent invasion of Gaza and insisted that peace between Israel and Palestine would only be achieved if the Israel government recognized the need to include all factions in any peace negotiation. He made clear he has always told Hamas to act differently and accept the legal presence of Israel. “They have to accept this, but Israel also has to accept Palestine.”

Hopefully, the United States and Iran can begin to jaw, jaw and end thoughts of war, war.

What Is Gordon Brown Hiding About Iraq??

Several British groups have asked the government to release Cabinet minutes for the meetings of March 13 and March 17, 2003 when discussions were held about the decision to support the Bush invasion of Iraq. Information Minister Richard Thomas ordered the release of the minutes arguing that their publication was in the public interest. His decision was supported by an independent tribunal last month. But, for the first time, the Brown government has decided to make use of “Section 53″ of the Freedom of Information Act which allows it to veto the release of documents. By drawing upon this section of the law it is impossible for challengers to take the case to court. According to a government spokesperson, the release of the documents would do “serious damage” to the frank discussions that took place on those two momentous days.

Members of parliament from every aspect of the political scene protested the decision. Many insisted the Brown decision showed disrespect for the people of Great Britain and their right to know why their nation got into a war. Of course, the men and women who died might complain of “serious damage” to their lives by the decision of Tony Blair and his associates.

Abbas Insists Hamas Must Accept Israel Agreements

The Palestinian people need a government which is united and prepared to work for peace with Israel, but differences between Hamas and Fatah increasingly illustrate why peace will take a long time to appear in the Middle East. President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian government outside of Gaza, insists Hamas must accept agreements made between Palestinians and Israel. “This government must fully honor the commitments that we agreed to in the PLO. When governments come, they respect and honor and accept obligations of previous governments.” However, Hamas leaders are complaining the Abbas insistence on accepting Israel as a legal government impedes opportunities for forming a unified Palestinian government.

Hamas wants to continue bringing in arms and ammunition which they believe are necessary to protect their government in Gaza. Abbas wants to end reliance on violence and shift the emphasis towards that of peace and reconciliation. Ironically, the failed dialogue between Palestinians prevents a successful dialogue between Palestinians and Israel. The real issue is which comes first– an internal Palestinian agreement or an agreement between Israel and a Palestinian authority?

Zimbabwe Solution To Hunger–More Government Ministers

It is frequently difficult to write about Zimbabwe under the leadership of the thug president Robert Mugabe without shaking one’s head in disbelief. The nation has an unemployment rate of about 85%, inflation is too high to even measure, thousands are dead of cholera, and millions have fled the country in search of food. So, what is the Mugabe solution to these problems– hire an additional 30 ministers to head the government. I suspect this ignorant writer does not quite grasp the brilliance of Mugabe– end unemployment by making everyone a member of the government!! What a solution! Wow, no one ever thought of that solution to lack of jobs!

Mugabe is adding 31 new ministers to his already bloated government. As Job Sikhala put it: “a collapsed economy like Zimbabwe cannot afford the luxury of 71 ministers even a country as the United States with 51 states has one president, one vice-president and a Cabinet of less than 21 ministers.” Yes, but we are now witnessing a rise in unemployment, so maybe Obama will learn from the African master of deceit and idiocy and add more members of the Cabinet. All Obama has to do is wander over to Wall Street and he can find plenty willing to join his government.

Obama Wows The Nation– But Not Republicans

At one point in his speech, President Barack Obama noted that Congress has voted to provide medical insurance for children, a bill most Republicans opposed. Republican congressmen sat quietly until finally they realized they were not applauding providing health care to children and slowly they rose to applaud. The incident was symbolic of what will destroy the Republican party. Governor Bobby Jindal followed the Obama speech with another recital that all problems could be solved by cutting taxes because it would allow people to make their own decisions about the future. Obama tried desperately to explain that if you don’t have a job, you don’t have an income and therefore you will not get a tax cut. Obama pointed a direction that at times of crisis the government must act boldly, but to Republicans the only bold thing it could do is to cut taxes. Ironically, Jindal cited working our way through the Great Depression. I assume Mr. Jindal does not understand that America got out of the Depression by bold government action.

President Obama made clear there are no quick and easy solutions. He emphasized that health care, education and a collapsed credit system must be dealt with boldly. Republican congressional reaction was silence and anger. Tax cuts will not compel banks to extend credit, tax cuts will not get people working, tax cuts will not solve the credit crisis. Bobby Jindal in his response claimed the people of New Orleans had solved their problems without the need of federal help. The Federal government spent $175 billion to help rebuild New Orleans, one can only assume Governor Jindal is either ignorant of that sum or doesn’t consider $175 billion to be of much help. But, he reflects the problem of the Republican party, they have yet to offer a single concrete solution except for the enduring “tax cut” solution.

It was encouraging to hear the president offer creation of a modern version of the GI Bill of Rights which apparently even Republicans endorse. We need to deal with high tuition rates that make college difficult for the middle class as well as poor people. The reality is there is no simple solution, but the Obama speech is an excellent beginning.

Egyptian Students Protest Lack Of Freedom On Campuses

Egyptian college students protested the presence of “security forces” on their campuses which they regard as a barrier to being able to freely express views while on a college campus. They wanted the removal of all forces from the Interior Ministry from their daily lives and blamed the desire of the Egyptian government to seek controlling free speech in colleges. As some of the students noted: “Security bodies ban any and all political, cultural and intellectual activity inside universities. they want to create a generation of young people incapable of saying anything except ‘yes’ to Mubarak, senior and junior.” A complaint raised by protestors was the frequent punishment of critics by preventing them places in university dormitories.

There can not be a free atmosphere on a college campus if police are present and ready to step in to put down what they regard as a violation of peace on the campus. A university must have complete control over all aspects of life in a university even to the point of hiring its own security force. There is no room for police when freedom of speech is the issue.

Groups Protest Indonesian Pornography Law

Numerous groups are protesting the new pornography law in Indonesia on grounds it violates freedom of religion as well as prevents cultural groups from enacting traditional activities. The law defines pornography as something related to nudity, but as one plaintiff in the law suit points out, “what about the japongan dance in West Java and women wearing kemben (traditional strapless top) in Central Java and East Java?” There are numerous ways in which one could be charged with supporting pornography under the new law and Christian groups are particularly incensed that the law reflects the ideas of a group of fundamentalist Muslim men who seek to impose their definition of pornography on the diverse population of Indonesia.

Any nation which believes “nudity” is equivalent to “pornography” opens the door to censorship for what might be ordinary cultural activities.

Sri Lanka War Winds Down

The decades long civil war in Sri Lanka between the Tamil minority and the government is nearly over as members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are pushed into a narrow area on the northeast section of the island. Leaders of the Tamil Tigers appealed for international action that might lead the government to halt its offense and allow a cease fire. They made clear, “we also wish to inform the international community that we are ready to discuss, cooperate and work together in all their efforts to bring an immediate ceasefire and work towards a political settlement.” The words sound peaceful, but after over 25 years of killing it is unrealistic for the Tamil leaders to suddenly claim they only want a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The government made clear they want a white flag of surrender and will not accept anything less.

The Sri Lanka government position is understandable, but there is also room for making clear to the Tamil minority there now is an opportunity to end discrimination and accord Tamils equal rights. The murderous suicide bombs of the LTTE has engendered anger and hate. It is too late to suddenly change minds about how to fight for equality. Perhaps, if the LTTE had looked across to India they might have achieved their goals by adopting the ideas of an Indian leader- Gandhi.